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Oscar Futures: Sorry, We Bought a Zoo

Every week between now and January 24, when the nominations are announced, movies and stars will help themselves — or sometimes, hurt themselves — in the Oscar race. Vulture's Oscar Futures will listen for insider gossip, comb the blogs, and out-and-out guess when necessary to track who's up, who's down, and who's currently leading the race for a coveted nomination.

Best Director UP: Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar). Eastwood played things a little quiet over the past few months, and then BLAM! Leonardo DiCaprio is on the cover of GQ, Armie Hammer's on the cover of Details, and Clint's gearing up to premiere his highly anticipated movie at the AFI Fest. DOWN: Fernando Meirelles (360). The onetime nominee for City of God won't get asked back to the dance this time, to judge from the withering reviews of 360 out of Toronto.
CURRENT PREDIX: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris); Stephen Daldry (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close); David Fincher (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo); Michael Hazanavicious (The Artist); Steven Spielberg (War Horse)
Best Actor UP: Brad Pitt (Moneyball). THR's Scott Feinberg thinks that Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are the category's two front-runners. DOWN: Michael Shannon (Take Shelter). It's a terrific, tough lead performance in an indie that needs support. The problem? Michael Fassbender's working the same angle for Shame (which was just thrown into awards season), and he's got full-frontal nudity and youthful buzz in his favor.
CURRENT PREDIX: George Clooney (The Descendants); Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar); Jean Dujardin (The Artist); Michael Fassbender (Shame); Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Best Actress UP: Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn). That Vogue cover! That heartbreaking backstory! That willingness to work the awards circuit! Could Williams make a lunge for the gold?DOWN: Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs). Pundits were disappointed by Close last week, and it didn't get any better at Toronto: "There has been some Oscar buzz around Glenn Close but frankly, we just don’t see it happening (unless the field is very weak this year)," snapped the Playlist.
CURRENT PREDIX: Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs); Viola Davis (The Help); Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady); Charlize Theron (Young Adult); Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)
Best Supporting Actor UP: Christopher Plummer (Beginners). Plummer's also got a potential Best Actor nod coming if the right distributor picks up his one-man show Barrymore, but Jeff Wells thinks that performance will just add to his odds in the Supporting category: "I'm all but convinced he has the Oscar in the bag." DOWN: Nick Nolte (Warrior). He's still hanging in there, but Warrior's meager box-office take is a significant blow.
CURRENT PREDIX: Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn); Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady); Albert Brooks (Drive); Nick Nolte (Warrior); Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Best Supporting Actress UP: Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs). Several reviews claim that McTeer's cross-dresser steals the movie from Glenn Close. But can either of them get traction? DOWN: Keira Knightley (A Dangerous Method). Several Oscar pundits are advocating that Knightley — terrific in a divisive performance — should drop down to Supporting. Bull: She's a clear lead.
CURRENT PREDIX: Sandra Bullock (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close); Jessica Chastain (The Help); Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus); Octavia Spencer (The Help); Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)